U.S. Rep. Mike Turner’s press secretary said Tuesday it’s not known whether cutbacks in national security spending in the new debt limit law will jeopardize the testing of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — something currently being pursued for the Wilmington Air Park by Turner and others.
The final version of the Budget Control Act of 2011 calls for an initial $175 billion cut in national security funding, said Turner in a column released Tuesday.
The cuts to national security expenditures are not specified in the bill, Turner’s Press Secretary Thomas A. Crosson said.
What’s more, those spending cuts can be made not only from the U.S. Department of Defense and the branches of the military, but also from other national security-related agencies such as Department of State, the National Nuclear Safety Administration (within the Department of Energy), the Department of Veteran Affairs and perhaps another agency or two, said Crosson.
“We don’t know at this time what percentage the cuts will be or from where [which departments and agencies], nor do we know whether the cuts will be made across the board,” Crosson said in connection to the UAV question.
Turner’s column does cite Gen. Philip Breedlove, U.S. Air Force vice chief of staff, as saying that a proposed $281 billion in additional defense cuts in the bill would result in a “fundamental restructure of what it is our nation expects from our Air Force.”
The Air Force Research Laboratory, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, has identified the Wilmington Air Park as a potential test and development site for technology to safely integrate UAVs into the nation’s airspace.
The proposed $281 billion of additional defense cuts is related to the section of the bill creating a panel of a dozen lawmakers charged with finding at least $1.5 trillion more in savings over 10 years by Thanksgiving. If the new committee fails to recommend at least $1.2 trillion in savings or if Congress turns it down, the bill automatically triggers $281 billion in cuts to defense spending, according to The Associated Press.
Turner wrote, “Subjecting this integral [national defense] piece of our government to cuts, without thorough debate in committee and on the House floor, sets a dangerous precedent.”
Turner said he voted against the legislation “because I could not support a process which circumvents the normal legislative process and gambles with our national security.”
Meanwhile, Clinton County’s two other lawmakers in Washington — the two U.S. senators from Ohio — voted for the debt limit measure just passed by the U.S. Congress.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said in a press release he would have preferred “a more balanced compromise — one that cuts both spending and tax loopholes.”
In its favor, the legislation “rejects House attempts to dismantle Medicare by turning it over to the insurance companies and beats back efforts to undermine Social Security and other lifelines for middle-class Ohioans,” said Brown.
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